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Recruitment after recession – responding to change

Matthew Parker, Group MD, StepStone Solutions , discusses how the talent acquisition environment is changing with the economy and how companies and job seekers can get the best from it

As the economy returns to growth in many parts of Europe, early indicators suggest that the jobs market will be reignited throughout 2010 with companies recruiting again and people looking for more satisfying jobs. Our recent Pan-European study of talent acquisition trends showed that nearly two thirds of organisations are planning to increase recruitment within the next year and that one fifth will be creating new positions. Employees are also planning their next moves as many are frustrated in their current positions: over 40 percent of the respondents cited a lack of career development opportunities as their reason for looking for a new job. What this points to is the start of a steady growth in job-seeking throughout 2010, as businesses are able to resume hiring after recruitment freezes, and people regain the confidence to change jobs. That’s the good news, at least for candidates. But as the economic climate changes, companies need to consider if they are now using the right methods and job information to acquire the talent they need when emerging from the downturn.

As momentum picks up, fresh trends have emerged within the talent acquisition industry. Perhaps the overriding development is that now many job seekers across Europe are moving away from traditional methods of finding employment. Rather than using agencies and traditional media (where job seekers often find too few advertised positions and out of date job offers), the data shows that online methods are fast becoming the favoured option when searching for a job. This shift dictates the need for companies to think carefully about exactly how and where they are reaching the talent they hope to acquire.

The changes in how candidates search for jobs are already being reflected in the communication methods between many employers and recruiters – with 71 per cent of recruiters now looking for candidates through third-party or, increasingly, in-house job sites. If you consider that only 37 percent of recruiters now say they use a selection agency, 27 percent use national newspapers and 29 percent use local papers, it becomes clear just how important online approaches to talent acquisition have become for corporate HR processes. The use of social media is also growing in popularity as a tool to assist talent acquisition, with companies regularly admitting to using social networking sites when reviewing potential candidates.

For businesses, it is crucial that they recognise the transition candidates are making towards the world of online job searching and what this means for HR departments in terms of harnessing the potential talent available. Of particular interest to hard-pressed HR teams has to be the potential to cut through the large number of often irrelevant applications, even before they hit the recruiter’s inbox. We see many companies now starting to use automated methods to screen potential applicants out of the process at an early stage, for example.

However, it is not just the method that needs consideration. The information businesses convey when attempting to acquire new talent has also been shown to be critical – and not always what employers think. Our research has found that the information candidates consider important about a vacancy is often not the same as that recruiters choose to highlight when they advertise a new position. While both parties acknowledge that detail on the specific role itself is most important, recruiters tend to prioritise the work environment and the image of the company. Candidates meanwhile consider the salary of the position and the size and stability of the company as a whole to be of far greater significance.

Ultimately, companies will find themselves ill equipped to face the eventual upturn if dissatisfied employees head for the door, while sub-optimal job advertisements and unpopular recruitment methods fail to attract the best talent for new vacancies.  Although we are seeing more employers engaging with their target candidates via online channels, it is vital that they get the methods and content right to recruit the best talent for their organisation. Recruiters and employers cannot ignore the fact that in the post-recession environment there will be a surge in activity. However, the right information and the right methods will make a huge difference in the quality of responses organisations receive from candidates.

 

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